Sequence of Court Proceedings
Forcing No-Fault Divorce is Unconstitutional
Court experts' analysis highlighted in red
most recent at top of list
10/21/09 Eighth District Ohio Appeals Court, Oral Arguments, Case No. 93012
Mother asks appeal court to reverse child support order. High-incoming-earning custodial parent should pay low-income-earning non-custodial parent. Civil Court should defer to Church to invoke parties own canon law regarding separation of spouses and their obligations toward children and each other.
See Opening Statement
9/12/07 Complaint to Ohio Supreme Court. Case: 2007-1699
Original Action in Mandamus and Prohibition. Mother asks Ohio Supreme court to advise local county court that they must permit her to get needed evidence on record. She needs to establish whether divorced-husband and she both voluntarily agree to abide by the obligations specified in the Roman Catholic Church rules. She needs to question husband, and ask him if he adheres to his published statements in which he professes loyalty to the magisterium. See Complaint
7/9/07 Hearing in County Court for Child support in front of Magistrate
Divorced-husband has bee
n ordered to sue Mom for child support. During hearing, Mother is not permitted to ask Dad questions about his voluntary willingness to adhere to specific church rules regarding parents' obligations toward each other and their children because of "separation of church and state." Magistrate's decision for child support is filed on 8/02/07 and as of 9/11/07 has not yet been made a court order. Both Mom and Dad have objected to Magistrates decision for different reasons.
10/28/06 Answer from Ohio Supreme Court
"DECISION: Jurisdiction declined and appeal dismissed"
8/16/06 Filed Appeal with Ohio Supreme Court
Paraphrase of four propositions: 1) The lawyer assigned as the children's attorney can't represent them when he opposes the children's wishes, 2) Old case law needs review which makes it unacceptable for a couple to choose their own arbitration panel and rules regarding child custody, 3) Promises made by individuals in marriage hold weight under statute of frauds, 4) The court can't become entangled with religious doctrine and the determinations based on that doctrine apply to people who made agreements promising to abide by such religion.
6/22/06 Appeals Decision
The Ohio Court of Appeals issued its decision. The court ignored the clear religious discrimination in this case - not even choosing to cite them and explain them. This perfectly positions this case for appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. Marie MacFarlane intends on continuing the appeal in order to protect her children and the sanctity of marriage. See description at TrueMarriage.net:
5/31/06 Conclusion of Court Guardian read to appeals judges
Law Professor reads guardian's conclusion: "... the [mother] has ... taken neglectful actions not in the best interest of her children. This latest appeal is nothing more than a crusade to enhance her reputation among those who share her worldview; which include groups of religious extremists who refuse to acknowledge or submit to the laws of the State of Ohio, ..."
5/31/06 Arguments Presented to Appeals Court
Law Professor Argues No Fault Divorce Unconstitutional
Cleveland, OH-- Constitutional law professor, Stephen Safranek is arguing in the 8th district court of appeals that forcing routine no-fault divorce on a Christian wife and children is unconstitutional. ... , Safranek asserts, "promises made by the couple, to be married in accordance with the laws of their Catholic Church, can not be ignored by the civil courts. ... see North Country Gazette
1/17/06 Appeal to High Court Submitted
An Ohio mother of four has launched
a constitutional appeal against an Ohio civil divorce and custody decision,
arguing her religious beliefs and free speech were used against her in
the proceedings. ... Mrs. Macfarlane is a stay-at-home mother and
devout Roman Catholic who homeschooled her children until 2004. ... The
civil divorce court refused to allow a third party arbitrator, the ecclesiastic
authority of the Roman Catholic Church, to determine separation procedures,
financial settlements and custody of the children. This is despite legal
precedents set in cases of Jewish or Islamic marriage. ... see CNA
8/4/05 Appeal to High Court announced
Mother's potentially precedent-setting
appeal was submitted by Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek. The Constitutional Law professor argues: The courts need to take into
account the religious faith and practices that the couple agreed upon when
they married. In this case, the court has allowed the father to place one
child in daycare and is preventing the mother from caring for her children
even though she is willing to do so." ... "Her religious freedom,
and her desire to instill good morals in her children were used against
her in the proceeding" said Professor Safranek.CNA
news To donate to the legal fund in this case, contact
7/11/05 Judge Cheryl Karner's Ruling
Father, who works full time, is
given permanent custody of children, even pre-school age children.
Stay-at-home mom is denied authority over her children's education, extracurricular,
medical, and social decisions. She is 'given' time to visit with
children and will have to get full time job to support herself and children
when spousal support ends. Mom was never found guilty of any abuse.
The judge wrote on page 18 of the decree,"The Adjustment of the Children:
par 41. Mrs Macfarlane has done something right. Her children are
terrific." The judge however was displeased that this mother wanted
to continue the education of her children as they had always been educated. To supposedly protect the children from divorce, the judge justifies the taking of the children from their mother:
30. Mrs. Macfarlane has maintained throughout these proceedings that this custody/allocation of parental rights and responsibilities matter is a home schooling case. Unfortunately, Mrs. Macfarlane has never been able to comprehend that home schooling was only a part of this case - that there are other important factors the Court must consider in a custody/parenting case. Her crusade and cause for home schooling, unfortunately, has had priority over the needs of her children.
The court was also displeased that the mother let her four year old say "Daddy broke our family." The court writes:
31. The court finds that there is nothing inherently wrong with home schooling. It is an alternative for the education of children. However, it is not mainstream education. When a Court is faced with two parents fighting as bitterly as these parents have over such an issue, it must seek to lessen the stress on the children rather than feed the controversy. The Court, as a result, believes that putting these children in a structured school setting is in their best interest. School offers them time away from both parents and time to be independent of the stress caused by the battle over the divorce and home schooling.
40. The Court has great concern with Mrs. Macfarlane's acceptance of this divorce.
Mr. Macfarlane moved out of the house in July of 2003 and while this Court is sympathetic
with how upset and angry Mrs. Macfarlane was, almost two years later that anger has not
subsided and it is infecting her children. As Mrs. Macfarlane testified at trial, "two homes
is not a home." How unfortunate it is for her children that she has that attitude. Her
marriage is not going to be saved no matter what she wants. She has to realize it and get
beyond this for her children's sake. Unfortunately, the Court has seen no movement, no
effort on Mrs. Macfarlane's part to heal for the benefit of her children. Her interest, her
needs, her anger, her desires, her problems come before her children. Her ideological battle,
her warfare, is being conducted at the expense of her children. Until she lets go of this anger,
her children will continue to suffer.
Two Weeks of testimony was given
to the judge. Husband's only witnesses were school teachers who've
met him briefly. Wife's witnesses included 4 different godparents,
and spouse of godparent. All wife's witnesses have known the couple
for years and believed the mother should have custody of children.
The court psychologist and court ordered children's attorney advised court
that father should keep children. The court psychologist's report
of wife was rebutted by an MMPI expert who testified that the interpretation
was not supported by the data in the standardized test. The court
psychologist's report regarding education was rebutted by Brian Ray, homeschooling
expert who testified that the court psychologists opinion regarding education
Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek submitted an argument
to the state court that a divorce case must be transferred to a Catholic
Ecclesiastic Tribunal for arbitration. In the memorandum, Safranek
argues that Ohio law, favors arbitration agreements and seeks to uphold
them. Citing legal precedents in favor of arbitration, including many
cases where religious tribunals were the arbitrators, he asserts: Courts
have readily recognized antenuptial agreements demanding the help of religious
tribunals. ... A failure of the courts to recognize the arbitration
rights of the Catholic Church in this case not only violates the understanding
Marie had when she entered upon this marriage, it necessarily entangles
this court in issues relating to Catholic law, teaching, faith and belief.
the memorandum from Constitutional Law Professor
12/08/04 Our canon law case,
regarding ecclesiastical code for separation and divorce, is pending at
the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota. Because we have a defacto
prenuptial agreement to follow the rules of the Code of Canon law, my civil
attorney is continuing to argue that the ecclesiastic court determination
is very relevant to our civil divorce case. We are waiting for findings
of facts and conclusions of law from the civil judge as to why she's dismissed
this argument so we have something to appeal. Canon law case publicized
by CNA news,
EWTN and Spirit Daily. (Read
my first-person account)
11/22/04 The judge, the children's
attorney and the court-ordered psychologist (latter two are professed Catholics)
will not let our four year old out of day care. Psychologist written
report states why. "wife as falling into 'an extreme and marginal group'
regarding her religious beliefs and beliefs of divorce. ... she has been
on a 'crusade' since this divorce process began." ... "During
her visit (to court psychologist) with [four year old son], she asked him,
'Where would you like to be during the day, School, Mom's house, or Dad's
house?' Cletus responded that he would like to be with his mother. Bai
also asked Cletus in my presence, 'Why aren't you at my house anymore?'
Cletus responded, 'Because Daddy broke up our family.'" ... "Of great concern
are her interactions with Cletus in my office. Specifically, she encouraged
Cletus to state that his father was 'breaking up' their family.' Also of
great concern is the fact that Ms. Macfarlane appeared to view this as
positive. She has not demonstrated that she has an understanding of how
this is potentially very damaging. While it is the Court's purview to determine
visitation, it frightens me that she seems to have learned very little
about children's adjustment to divorce based on her unwillingness to accept
From my perspective,
our children have know from
their own father, that to leave one's spouse, is to "break a family."
I never encouraged our children to say anything other than to speak the
truth of what is on their mind and heart.
11/4/04 I want to get our youngest,
who just turned four, out of day care. I want to get our first grader,
back home to homeschooling, which the psychologist said was in his best
interest. At least during my husband's working hours the two youngest
could be brought to mom. But the guardian-ad litem will do nothing.
Today, he said it would be better for Clete to be in day care because the
daily transition between leaving Mom and going to Dad every afternoon would
be worse than the daily transition between leaving daycare and going to
Dad every afternoon. His solution to preventing Clete's traumatic
transitions of leaving Mom, is to have Clete not see mom at all!
10/20/04 Court and husband
give mother option of 'visiting with sons' every other weekend and for
3 hours one weeknight. Mother reluctantly signs agreement.
She was warned if she doesn't accept this agreement she could keep the
old visitation schedule with even less hours and supervision. Husband
and court refuse to consider letting three-year-old get out of day
care. Husband and court refuse to let first grader be homeschooled
even though he was still allowed to be homeschooled according to court
psychologist. Court wouldn't even consider the option of having all
the boys return to mother even if the older boys go to school recommended
9/27/04 Youngest son cries whole
time he's on phone with mother during court-ordered 10 minute daily time
9/23/04 Husband and court in unison
give mother the option of signing agreement to only be with her four sons
with supervision for several hours on Saturday and Sunday. Youngest
son, age three, is in day-care. Court orders restraining order against
stay-at-home mom from spending time with three year old at day care center.
9/13/04 Emergency hearing.
Court orders Plaintiff, father, to take full custody of children.
Two older boys are to go to school recommended by government psychologist.
Third son is enrolled too, though psychologist recommend he continue in
mother's preferred schooling for two more years. Court issues
restraining order; mother can't enter school property.
9/9/04 Children's attorney,
Ready submits brief in opposition to mother's argument that the Church
tribunal has jurisdiction. John argues that he and the judge, as
the agents of the state, must have parenting authority; this is, in his
opinion, a necessary protection by the state to ensure that the best interests
of the children are protected.
John Ready's argument, as to why the State ought not allow the parties
to use their ecclesiastic authorities to arbitrate.
9/8/04 Mother meets again with
psychologist, Deborah Koricke, and repeats that she wants a hearing regarding
schooling of children. Deborah still disagrees with mother
regarding what is in the children's best interest. She is unmoved
by oldest son's enthusiasm for family's schooling method, and disagrees
with three books which support this schooling choice of mother containing
many psychological studies.
8/30/04 Mother continues schooling
of sons as had done their entire life, and does not follow psychologist
recommendation. She is defying the court order which only exists
because she signed an agreement 1/30/04 to change children's' schooling.
Earlier agreement was signed, according to the mother, under coercion and
Defendant filed motion to Vacate Court orders and transfer jurisdiction
read legal brief
read affidavit by neighboring
diocese chancellor, couple has prenuptial agreement
8/19/04 Mother and children meet
with court psychologist, Deborah Koricke and bring two book bags of schooling
materials. Oldest son explains to Deborah why he likes his present
schooling method and shows her why he likes his science, grammar, history,
reading, composition and other books. Mother leaves Deborah with
three books which document the advantages of present schooling method.
8/18/04 Pretrial meeting. Court
postpones final hearing and attributes delay to needing another report
from psychologist, Deborah Koricke, to determine with which parent children
7/26/04 Husband amended his
civil complaint for divorce to include the ground, the parties have, without
interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation.
This is routinely used by Ohio courts to grant forced no-fault divorces.
6/14/04 Mother's attorney advises
court that she only signed earlier agreement regarding parenting choices
(specifically education) under coercion and duress. Mother requests
hearing on education -- wants to bring in experts who have different opinion
than court ordered psychologist, Dr. Deborah Koricke. Mother also
wants a hearing regarding visitation. She objects to rule 18 (too
much time away from home, impossible to visit out-of-town relatives) which
she never understood when she was advised to sign 10/7/03 agreement under
coercion and duress.
12/30/03 Defendant, mother, signed
agreement to quit her preferred method of schooling. According to
second-hand-information, the judge, Cheryl Karner, advised mother that
the children would be taken away from her if she were to continue their
schooling method. Mother was not advised before 10/6/03, when she
agreed to pay Deborah Koricke $3000 for her opinion, that the court would
expect mother to obey the recommendations or face the penalty of losing
12/22/03 Defendant received copy
of psychologist report in which this 'expert,' Deborah Koricke, recommended
that the children's education method be radically changed. [Deborah ignores
the science that demonstrates millions of children in America are thriving
in this same method.] Deborah said they should change schools immediately.
She also recommend that the boys do extracurricular activities chosen by
their father for one quarter, and by their mother the next quarter.
She also thinks the boys should go back and forth between mom and dad all
summer long alternating weeks. The mother has done research on the
effects of divorce on children and no scientific studies conclude that
splitting children between two single parent households is good for them,
and alternating extracurricular quarterly is ludicrous.
12/17/03 Defendant, mother, files
dismissal of her previous statements which give court grounds for divorce.
She wants to fight the divorce.
Mother learns that her attorney
had her sign papers giving the judge grounds for divorce, though she wants
to fight the divorce. Her attorney advised her that no one ever gets a
hearing based on grounds for divorce even though the Ohio legislature has
the grounds on the law books. He warned her that if the court psychologist,
Deborah Koricke, or the court ordered children's attorney ever learned
she was doing her own legal research, they'd think she was crazy. Only
a crazy person does her own legal research.
10/7/03 Pretrial meeting
was told to sign papers making the children leave home much of the time to visit their father in the place he rented. Mother only signed these
because she was warned by children's attorney, John
Ready, that if she doesn't sign some agreement the judge could give
her something worse. Mother was also advised that she had to come
up with visitation agreement in order to receive any spousal and child
support. Ohio law does not specify either of these condition.
10/6/03 Government/court psychologist
is named to have power to determine what is in children's best interest.
Dr. Deborah Koricke, is to be paid $3000 in advance by court order.
[As of 10/3/04, Deborah still has spoken to no one other than parents and
children. Deborah told defendant that she does NOT want to talk to
friends or extended family.] The county court docket states "AGREED
JOURNAL ENTRY...DR. DEBORAH KORICKE OF CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE LIVING IS APPOINTED
AS COURT'S WITNESS TO CONDUCT A FORENSIC CUSTODY EVALUATION... VOL 4209
PGS 0942-0944" But I didn't agree; I was coerced and put under duress;
I was advised by my first attorney on 8/26/04 that the court was ordering
this and that I didn't have any other option - so I signed papers.
He also told me and my father, "This would be the best $3,000 you ever
spend." My attorney had never told me that I could insist that I
want full custody of our children or that I didn't want to give a psychologist
authority to make parenting decisions. He wanted me to agree to split
my children between two broken homes. Nowhere in Ohio law could I
find the phrase "forensic custody evaluation." I think the attorneys
and psychologists made up this phrase. The psychologist's evaluations
were conducted off record and all of her subsequent reports contain only
hearsay, unsubstantiated opinion and incomplete representations of standardized
9/8/03 Parenting authority is given
to government. John Ready, is assigned as boys guardian.
8/26/26 My first attorney advised me the judge is requiring me to have a psychologist get involved
and a guardian ad litem and children's attorney, counsel.
8/19/03 Father, who'd been
an avid public supporter of homeschooling submitted written statement to
court asking for court to forbid mother from homeschooling.
Husband abandoned wife. Exact reasons
remain a mystery to wife.
Copyright Mary's Advocates